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Chevrolet to return to IndyCar in 2012

The IZOD IndyCar Series’ 2012 car program received another exciting boost Nov. 12 when General Motors and Chevrolet officials announced its re-entry into the series at a news conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The new, purpose-built Chevy twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V-6 racing engine will be developed jointly by GM and Ilmor Engineering of Michigan. It will have an aluminum block and cylinder heads, and will be a fully stressed chassis member supporting the gearbox and rear suspension. INDYCAR’s technical details and specifications will be released at a later date.

The American automaker will join current IZOD IndyCar Series engine manufacturer Honda, which announced in August that it would build and supply a new twin-turbocharged V-6 engine, designed by California-based Honda Performance Development, for the series in 2012.

Both engines will power the new IndyCar Safety Cell that is being developed by Dallara Automobili with input from current drivers and team principals.The platform allows for the design and implementation of aero kits around the rolling chassis. Dallara officials will break ground on the Indianapolis production facility Nov. 16.

“We've heard time and time again from fans that they want competition. We are excited to have engine manufacturer competition again in the IZOD IndyCar Series, beginning in 2012," INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said. "Chevrolet brings a strong passion for racing, technology, relevance and innovation, which is a great fit for our new car platform. We are excited about the future of IndyCar racing with the addition of Chevrolet as well as the continued involvement of our longtime engine supplier Honda."

The program also will reunite one of the most successful partnerships in motorsports as Team Penske will introduce the Chevrolet engine in 2012. Team Penske posted 31 Indy car victories with Chevrolet engines (in 1986, GM’s Chevrolet brand was attached to the Ilmor-built V8 engine in CART) and four Indianapolis 5000 victories (Chevy posted its first Indianapolis 500 victory in 1988 with Rick Mears). 

"Our vision is to design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles – and racing is one of the best ways to showcase what we can do," said Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman of Global Product Operations. "Re-entering Indy-style racing will help us take our advanced engine technology to the upper bounds of what’s possible. And it will also provide a dynamic training ground for engineers, who’ll transfer the technologies we develop for racing to the products we sell to our customers.

"GM has become a recognized leader in implementing direct-injection technology in both four-cylinder and V-6 engines by leveraging knowledge already gained from racing. Building on this foundation, our new partnership with Ilmor will give us even more opportunities to accelerate our engine technology. It will help our effort to continue to expand and improve the DI technology for street cars. Indy racing will also let us compete at the cutting-edge of key technologies like safety, aerodynamics, electronics and materials so we can make our vehicles even more efficient, safer, more innovative and, especially, more fun to drive."

Chevrolet competed previously in Indy car racing as an engine manufacturer in 1986-93 and 2002-05 with V-8 engines, winning 104 races, powering six driver champions and recording seven Indianapolis 500 victories.

"Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a proving ground for manufacturers since Louis Chevrolet, our co-founder, first raced here in 1909,” said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing. “Our return to IndyCar as Chevrolet enters its centennial year is natural. At the same time this engine program will be a showcase for the efficient and powerful engine technologies that parallel new Chevrolet vehicles like the Camaro, all-new Cruze compact and Equinox crossover.”

The IZOD IndyCar Series announced June 2 that that its next generation of engines would be more powerful and efficient than the current formula -- along with being relevant to the public and automobile industry. The platform allows manufacturers to produce engines with a maximum of six cylinders and 2.4 liter displacement. The ethanol-fueled engines will produce between 550 and 700 horsepower to suit the diverse set of tracks on which the IZOD IndyCar Series competes and will be turbocharged to allow for flexibility in power

Honda, which entered the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2003 and has been the sole engine supplier to the series since 2006, welcomed the re-introduction of competition.

“We want to take this opportunity to welcome Chevrolet back to the IZOD IndyCar Series,” Honda Performance Development president Erick Berkman said. “Although we are certainly proud of HPD’s numerous accomplishments during our tenure as single engine supplier to the series – including an active and unprecedented streak of five consecutive Indianapolis 500s completed without an engine failure – we have repeatedly and unequivocally expressed our desire for engine competition within the series, dating even from our first days of sole supply, in 2006.

“We look forward to renewing our relationship with Chevrolet as competitors on the racetrack and giving the fans of open-wheel racing a spirited and challenging rivalry.”

The new engine strategy was based on a recommendation from the ICONIC (Innovative, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) Advisory Committee, which was tasked with reviewing, researching and making a recommendation to the sanctioning body on the next generation IZOD IndyCar Series engine and chassis. 

Committee members included Brian Barnhart, Tony Cotman, Gil de Ferran, Eddie Gossage, Rick Long, Tony Purnell and Neil Ressler. It was mediated by retired Air Force Gen. William R. Looney III.

“This is a very exciting time and one of the biggest announcements in the history of the IZOD IndyCar Series,” said Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for INDYCAR. “We are proud to welcome back Chevrolet as a participant in the series.

“This is a company with an incredible reputation and something from the competition standpoint that the fans and everyone associated with the IZOD IndyCar Series are excited about having engine competition. This will drive fan excitement, loyalty and creates drama and excitement around the events. It will add an element of intrigue to the outcome of the events and something we are very excited about for the 2012 season.

“This is a great time to be introducing a new car and now we will be able to come back with engine manufacturer competition at the same time. Hopefully we will be able to add multiple aero kits to the car as well. This takes us back to a time that involves different looking cars and many levels of competition creating a lot of excitement around the IZOD IndyCar Series.”

Similarly, Mike Kelly, executive vice president of marketing and creative for series title sponsor IZOD, welcomes the addition marketing muscle.

“Today’s announcement about GM’s commitment to the IZOD IndyCar Series is one more sign of the growth of our sport," Kelly said. "We clearly have momentum and we couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it. The increased competition that Chevrolet will bring to the series and the added marketing support that a company of their stature brings, is a win/win situation for everyone involved. 

"This will send a signal to other manufactu

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